GENEVA: UN-backed peace talks for war-ravaged Syria were set to resume in Geneva Tuesday, but without Syrian government negotiators, who sources said have yet to determine if they will return, reports AFP.
“The delegation will not leave today or tomorrow for Geneva, and the final decision (on attending) has not been taken yet,” a source close to the government delegation told AFP on Tuesday.
An eighth round of peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s nearly seven-year war began in Geneva last week.
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura announced shortly after the talks began that they would be extended by two weeks.
Negotiations were paused over the weekend, but both sides were expected to return to Geneva to resume discussions on Tuesday. A UN spokeswoman said the talks would indeed resume Tuesday as planned.
“The Special Envoy has announced last week a recess. This recess (ends) today,” Alessandra Vellucci told reporters in Geneva.
However, the Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the government, said the regime’s delegation was in Damascus and was not expected to leave either Tuesday or Wednesday.
The daily said the invitation to return to the talks “is still being studied by the Syrian leadership”.
When asked about the delay, Vellucci said the government delegation had “been invited back in Geneva as of today (Tuesday). The Special Envoy stands ready to engage them when they return.”
“We expect and we hope they will be here very soon,” she added.
Meanwhile, the opposition delegation to the talks said its head Nasr al-Hariri had arrived in Geneva and would meet de Mistura on Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, a government source had already cast doubt on the return of the delegation to the talks.
“For the time being there has been no final decision.